Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fine (?) Living Network Beer Pairings

During a commercial of the Ravens/Steelers game, I surfed around (as is a guy's wont, prerogative and duty) and came upon a show called Beer Pairings. It was on a channel up in the 120's, I think, called FLN--the Fine Living Network.

There was this knockout blonde gal named Stephanie (Metzdorf?) in some lady's crab shack in Florida, getting ready to sample her Stone Crab Claws. If you were a guy, Stephanie was definitely worth watching, though her comments about the beer pairing were eminently forgettable. If you were a stone crab claw fan, they, too, were worth gawking at--big, fat and succulent.

But if you were a true beer aficionado, you couldn't have been blamed if you gagged when they paired the dish up with Corona--complete with lime. Most beer geeks would have immediately paired that crab with a good hefeweizen, kolsch, helles or pilsner.

Later segments, to the show's credit, used Sam Adams with filet mignon and Pilsner Urquell with a rib-eye. Though there were certainly other choices that would have worked, those pairings weren't unacceptable.

Since Stephanie was clearly a beer neophyte, and since it is likely that few true beer nuts ever heard of this show, and it may have been designed for the neophyte interested in how beer works with food. In that sense, the show deserves credit.

They even had Stone Brewing's Greg Koch on sharing his insights about beer and food, and he was, as expected, spot on. He touted, appropriately, Victory Prima Pils with one dish, and he scoffed at wine and cheese, claiming correctly that most cheeses are disasters with wine, though I hear almost any merlot goes exceptionally well with Velveeta... (Just kidding, winies.)

If you really know your beer, you'd probably think this show was pretty elementary. But let's not criticize to harshly any honest attempt to get average people to think about beer and food pairing. There should be more shows like this.

And maybe Stephanie would consider having a true beer nut accompany her on her travels?

That would be Fine Living for my Network.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Think Jersey, Drink Jersey!

Here's a neat little video from colleague Jeff Linkous over at

Cheers to Jeff and to all those who came out to the Central Jersey Charity Beerfest 2008 to help Kelly Mahon!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dick's Dock Oktoberfest Beer Dinner 10/20/08

If you're a seafood lover and you've never had the pleasure of dining at this little Metuchen restaurant, you're doing yourself a disservice. You simply won't find better, fresher seafood anywhere soon.

And when Bob Dick does a beer dinner, he brings the same style and panache to it as he does to his regular cooking Tuesdays through Sundays. His Oktoberfests are particularly noteworthy, not only because of the caliber of clientele they attract; but Bob shows he can strut his stuff just as well with the Food of the Fatherland as he does with the Flounder and the Fillets.

Check out this menu for Monday, October 20:

1st course: Beer and Brats on the Bar--Light and dark bratwursts, assorted homemade mustards and

Bob's Fabulous Crab Meat Mousse with assorted flatbreads and bagel chips

2nd course: Meat-Stuffed Cabbage with Special Sweet and Sour sauce

3rd course: Potato Leek Soup with Shredded Cheddar Cheese

4th course: German Cabbage Salad (cole slaw, no mayo) cucumber, carrot, onion, cabbage, red pepper in a vinaigrette.

5th course: German-style Sauerbraten with Vinegar Gravy and Vegetable Group (homestyle), Carrot Souffle, Potato Pancakes, apple sauce and sour cream

6th course: Dessert--the PubScout's Beer Float with Vanilla ice cream

As usual, I will be on hand to select the beers that accompany each course, as well as to provide special, um, insights to beer and world matters. We'll be singing some German songs, so come in good voice. Bob and Sandy usually always have a few great giveaways, too. One is a dinner for two at Dick's Dock (it's a BYO), so it's worth showing up just to get in that drawing.

Call Dick's Dock 732-744-1274 for reservations, and be a part of that heavy-hitting clientele! Hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

CNJ Beer Fest 2008

We Have a Winner!


By Kurt Epps—The PubScout

Talk about a perfect day, not to mention a worthy cause. This year's Central Jersey Beerfest 2008, spearheaded by JJ Bittings owner Mike Cerami, must have had the blessings of all the beer gods and their Boss.

Crystal clear, perfect weather, a shaded venue that seemed tailor-made for the event and crowds estimated above 1,000 made Parker Press Park the place to be on the last full day of summer 2008.

Eight breweries/brewpubs were on hand to proffer their beers. Bittings, Uno's, Climax, Cricket Hill, Tun Tavern, Boak's, Stone and River Horse were kept hustling, drawing brews for the sunsplashed and convivial crowds, as a band played boomer favorites on a stage at the far end of this compact park hard by the NJ Transit tracks in Woodbridge.

The purpose of this year's event was to raise money for a young lady, Kelly Mahon. You can read about her issues here. The proceeds will go to make her home handicapped-accessible. Woodbridge Mayor John McCormack, an all-around good guy, was even drawing beer at the Bittings taps, and his presence added a nice sense of panache and purpose to the event.

For the beer fancier, it was a bit of heaven dropped into a pocket park. Bittings Bad Boy Oktoberfest (Lager) and Uno's Oktoberfest (Ale) saw a huge amount of action, as did Stone's Arrogant Bastard and a blowaway barleywine called Hairy Eyeball. At 9% ABV, one might expect his orbs to become a bit hirsute after a few of these. Tun Tavern (with their model-caliber Miss America Pourers), Climax and Cricket Hill also saw substantial action with some very solid offerings. River Horse's Double Amber had people coming back for more in their four-ounce glasses.

But the prize for longest lines at the fest had to go to Boak's. With Brian Boak himself pulling a knockout Russian Imperial Stout called Monster Mash (10% ABV), an Abbey Brown (7% ABV) and a Belgian-style Tripel called Two Blind Monks (7% ABV), beer lovers were queued in lines of twenty-five or more all afternoon. So far back did the lines extend that they often mingled with the food vendors' lines on the other side of the park. Considering that this was Boak's first beer-fest ever, it was an impressive and auspicious beginning for this youthful-looking grandfather who got his start with a homebrew kit from Linens and Things. He was one of just two homebrewers invited to NYC's Brewtopia last year, and it's not hard to see why.

I decided to "go green" to this event, and I rode my bicycle from my home in Perth Amboy to Woodbridge, a distance of about five miles each way. I was glad I did when I saw the parking situation, and I was able to pay my fee and pedal my, um, self right into the park. I was also glad I had biked it when the event had concluded, because that Monster Mash and those Oktoberfests were really good, and, though I had filled my belly with two Doo-Wop special hotdogs, the bike was the more responsible ride. I will confess, though, that the ride home did seem as if it was all uphill.

Mike Cerami, who organized this event, was pleased. "It's a great day and a great cause," he said. The PubScout concurs, but has some recommendations for next year.

First, invite more food vendors to allow for more variety and choices. There is plenty of room to accommodate more.There was a pizza stand that sold cheesesteaks ($6) and other subs. I loved my Doo-Wop hot dogs, and the $2.50 price was right, but not everybody is a hot dog fan.

Second, when you treble the number of breweries, you should also treble the number of porta-potties. Those people standing in those long lines may have been shifting their feet from side to side, but I guarantee they weren't dancing to the music.

Third, whatever prayers or sacrifices you're making to the weather deity should be continued, because days don't get better than this.

In all, as Mike Cerami said, it was indeed a great day for a great cause.

And I can't wait to pedal to next year's.

Check out the pics here.

Caffeine-laced beer?

Brewers add many different things to their beers to give them flavor. The results are sometimes spectacular, sometimes mundane. But caffeine? Looks as though Ben Franklin's classic saying about beer might be in for some alterations. Instead of "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy," we get "Caffeine is proof that God loves us and wants us to be jumpy." Click the link below for the story.

MillerCoors to put Sparks Red on hold

Sunday, September 14, 2008

If you cask it, they will come...Uno's Cask Fest

Brewer Mike Sella at Uno's Grill and Brewery on Rt. 1 in Metuchen, NJ racked the eight casks up yesterday for Central Jersey Beer lovers, proving once again that good beer is a magnet for good people. A variety of casks slaked the thirsts of many for hours. From Mike's own outstanding--and unorthodox--Oktoberfest, to Dave Hoffman's Classic ESB, to Weyerbacher's Old Heathen, patrons returned again and again to sample some exceptional brews at Uno's.

With barman Lenny and Mike pulling the suds, and appetizers specially reduced for the event, guys like big Dave (Bruneyko) Joe, Kai, Bruce, Harvey and a host of others made the southeast corner of this excellent bar buzz with activity. In fact, after 4:30, the place got mobbed, and Sella told me people were still there today--24 hours later. You can see a few pics here.

Also available were two choices (a pale ale and a smoked porter) by Captain Lawrence (Pleasantville, NY), a very drinkable British-style pale ale courtesy of Chelsea, the outstanding Troeg's HopBack and Mike's own Ike's IPA. No it was not produced to commemorate that monster storm that hit Galveston, and in fact has been my favorite non-seasonal Uno's beer for many years. One of my favorite seasonals at Uno's is Mike's Oktoberfest, unorthodox as mentioned above because it's an ale rather than a lager. He's been brewing this style for some years because "it's less expensive for the customer." It's a yeast thing, he says. Whatever. It's an outstanding beer, pedigree be damned. Sella says he's also planning the next Uno's beer dinner, though a firm date has not been fixed. But staying tuned here will allow you to be among the first to know.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cask Fest at Uno's!

Brewer Mike Sella, who makes a wicked O-fest and a Hefeweizen, announces a Cask Fest at Uno's Grill and Brewery on Rt. 1 South in Metuchen this Saturday, Sept. 13.

Here's the deal, in Mike's words:

"The fest is a pay as you go deal, no admission or anything like that, just pay for what you want to drink.  I'll have 8 casks, my IPA and Oktoberfest, Climax ESB, Troegs Hopback,  Weyerbacher Old Heathen, Chelsea English Pale Ale, and Liquid Gold and Smoked Porter from Capt. Lawrence.
Goes from noon until whenever.............."

Looks like I'll be wending my way there this Saturday!

Drinking by college kids is good for the Constitution - NJVoices: Paul Mulshine

The other day, a nice young man I know turned 21. he was heading to AC to celebrate the milestone. To think that he was going to have his first drink there would have been naive beyond belief.

But one thing is certain about the magical 21 mark: after you reach it, much of the thrill of drinking is gone. I told him so, and he concurred. When strapping a funnel to your head and imbibing until you vomit loses some appeal, then what do you do? Maybe it's time to learn how to "enjoy" a beer rather than the effects of drinking too many of them? Why haven't we been teaching our progeny the former long before they get to their binge-drinking years?

Star Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine, a devotee of good beer, weighs in below.


Drinking by college kids is good for the Constitution - NJVoices: Paul Mulshine

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

JJ Bitting Brewing Co.... One of the PubScout's first reviews!

I take pride in being the first beer writer in the country to review this fascinating, fun brewpub, hard by the NJ Transit tracks in Woodbridge. Must have been ten years ago.

I missed this event last year, but I will not make the same mistake. Neither should you. Click below for info!


JJ Bitting Brewing Co.